Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!
A few weeks ago, I talked about important information to keep on-hand while visiting Walt Disney World. I mentioned that keeping information about your children is paramount, which leads me to this week's tip.
It's no surprise that kids often get separated from parents in such an enormous place as Walt Disney World. Just a single park is huge! With this in mind, here are a few suggestions for parents to help keep track of their children and what to do if (hopefully never) something goes wrong.
Credit, where credit is due: some of these are tips I've heard from many different Disney circles. If you came up with this tip -- my many thanks!
1. Have important information handy (write it down!!). This includes Social Security Numbers, date of birth, height, weight, eye color, etc. If something goes wrong, you'll quite likely be so freaked out, you just might not remember. I'm not kidding, I've seen it happen.
2. Take a photo of your children each day with your camera, cellphone, camcorder, whatever. If your child gets lost, you'll have a current photo to show authorities. Make it fun when you take the photo - that way kids won't get worried about getting lost.
3. Know what to do if something goes wrong. The moment you notice your child is missing, tell a CastMember. Don't wait. Disney has procedures to handle lost children. The same goes with your children. Tell them that if they can't find Mom or Dad, to tell a CastMember. Show them what CastMembers look like (especially the name badge).
4. Have a pre-arranged meeting place. If you do get separated, plan to meet somewhere specific. Don't just say "if we get separated, we'll meet at Cinderella Castle." That's way too broad. Make it very specific. For instance, "if we get separated, we'll meet at the entrance to Casey's," or "at the statue of Pleakey in Tomorrowland." This is especially important when visiting with older children who may have "free time" in the parks. A specific meeting place helps to avoid confusion.
5. Give your children emergency cards to carry with them. If a child, especially a young child, gets lost, they may be so scared they can't communicate well. Ahead of time, print a set of cards with the child's name, your name, your cell and the resort you're staying at. Tell the child that if they get lost, they can give the card to a CastMember and they will help you. I would strongly suggest that you emphasize to only give the card to a CastMember. I know there are a thousand guests who would be more than willing to help and all would be well, but you never know with guests (sorry, everyone). CastMembers are a safe bet.
6. Finally, stay calm. If something does go wrong, you won't get anywhere by panicking and freaking out. Keep a cool head and you'll get things straightened out in no time and be back enjoying the Happiest Place on Earth.
This is one tip I pray you never use. However, this is one tip that may just make all the difference when a parent faces one of their worst nightmares.